Category Archives: Advent

It’s that time again! Advent!!

I was looking at some Halloween pictures on-line this past week and I noticed a “different” costume on the daughter of my friend. Her little girl was dressed as a Jack-O-Lantern, but she had little Elf Shoes and a Santa Hat on. The caption of the picture said that she was dressed as… The Christmas Creep. Not only was this a cute costume, but it was also very applicable. Think about, September was barely in the books when stores started putting out their Christmas Displays.

I understand that The Christmas Shopping Season is when most retailers make enough money to get into the black, but how are we as parents to handle this creep within our families? How do we keep Christmas as special as it is while we are reminded of it’s presence starting in the Fall? How are we supposed to help our families remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and not getting new stuff? One way that our family does is pretty easy and fun: We celebrate Advent.

I grew up in a black Baptist church and when I was a Junior in college, I converted to Catholicism. Growing up, the only thing that I knew about Advent is that there was a cute little calendar that had chocolates, one for every day leading up to Christmas (My father’s side of the family is German and I attended a German Language Elementary School.) Once I became Catholic, however, I learned there was whole season in the liturgical calendar for Advent. Advent gives us the gift of four week of preparation: preparing our hearts and our homes for the coming of the Christ Child. It is four weeks for us to re-focus on what is most important, getting ready for the bridegroom to come to his bride.

Having two little ones, my husband and I know that we have to keep our Advent activities simple but still educational. It is important to us, as well, to make Advent just as meaningful as Easter, Lent, or Christmas. Some of our favorite Advent activities are:

– The Advent Wreath: This wreath of evergreen branches sits on our dining table and has 4 or 5 candles (1 candle for every Sunday of Advent with an optional candle for Christmas Eve) Three candles are purple, one is pink and the optional candle is usually white. I don’t have to tell you that kids and candles are always a hit. Before sitting down for the Sunday meal, we say one of the “O Antiphons” and light a purple candle. On week 2, we light 2 purple candles, etc. Week 3 brings the two purple candles and the pink (Gaudate Sunday: Time to Rejoice! The Christ Child is near!) and week 4 we light all four candles. On Christmas Eve, we light the white candle in the center, along with the other four and turn off the rest of the lights in the house and dine by candlelight. The candles stay lit though the evening meal and we let the girls take turns blowing the candle out after the meal.

– Advent Garland: This activity is great for preschoolers. First prep a series of purple and pink strips of construction paper along with some tape (you will need 3 purple strips for every 1 pink strip) to make chain garland. The garland follows the pattern: Purple, Purple, Pink, Purple (just like the Advent Candles on your wreath.) Not only does this make a cute Advent decoration, but it also helps to teach pattern recognition in your child!

– Jesse Tree: This activity does take a little more prep on the part of the parents, but you can make it as simple of as elaborate as you would like. The Jesse Tree tradition comes from the passage in the Bible where it talks about Christ coming from the root of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1.) The tree can be just about anything: a bare branch from outside, a tree painted on your window, a hand-drawn tree on a large piece of paper. There are 24 Jesse Tree Ornaments (one for every day of Advent- not counting Sundays, or you can start your tree on December 1 and hang an ornament daily.) We usually hang our ornaments after dinner: we read the bible passage that matches the ornament or tell the bible story and the girls get to hang the ornament. You can either print off Jesse Tree ornaments or you can make them. Google “Jesse Tree” for some additional ideas or images.

This year, Advent begins on November 27 and ends on December 24 and I hope that these suggestions help you to start a few new traditions within your family and to stave off that “Christmas Creep” a little longer!
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Have a blessed Advent!


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Jesse Tree Day 21: Joseph

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[b] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[c] because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”[d] (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

This song makes me cry just reading it. You can hear the enormity of being that any father feels upon seeing their newborn baby, but when your newborn has the job of saving the world assigned to him, it makes it that much harder to not want to control things. I just imagine Mary, sleeping lightly and Joseph, rocking his little boy while around them the animals rest and keep watch, no one knowing what lays ahead for any of them. At this moment, they are a little family together. The song is “Joseph’s Lullaby” by MercyMe.

Go to sleep my Son
This manger for your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Does the Father guard Your heart for now
So You can sleep tonight?

Go to sleep my Son
Go and chase Your dreams
This world can wait for one more moment
Go and sleep in peace

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Go to sleep my Son
Baby, close Your eyes
Soon enough You’ll save the day
But for now, dear Child of mine
Oh my Jesus, Sleep tight

Ornament: Saw
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Jesse Tree Day 20: Mary

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know” by Mark Lowry. One of my all time favorites!

Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect plan?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I Am.

Ornament: Our Lady of Grace
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Jesse Tree Day 19: Elizabeth and Zechariah

Scripture: Luke 1: 5-23

5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.

11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.

23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.”

Ornament: Heart
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Jesse Tree Day 18: Messenger

Scripture: Malachi 3:1-4

1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.

2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

Ornament: Trumpet
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Jesse Tree Day 17: Angel

Scripture: Hebrews 1:1-14

1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. 4 So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
The Son Superior to Angels

5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son;
today I have become your Father”[a]?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son”[b]?

6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”[c]

7 In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
and his servants flames of fire.”[d]

8 But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
by anointing you with the oil of joy.”[e]

10 He also says,

“In the beginning, Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
11 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
12 You will roll them up like a robe;
like a garment they will be changed.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.”[f]

13 To which of the angels did God ever say,

“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet”[g]?

14 Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?

I think one of the more confounding aspects of Catholic doctrine is the position of Angels. I was raised Protestant and I grew up with the notion that once you die, as long as you believed in Christ and were “good” you became an angel, complete with halo and feathery wings. But here we see that man and angels are separate entities completely and that man cannot become an angel. In fact, man was created to be above the angels, this little fact leading to Lucifer’s fall as he could not imagine that a great and powerful angel would have to serve lowly man. In his mind, it is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. So what happens to people after death if they do not become angels? They become Saints.

Ornament: Angel
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Jesse Tree Day 16: The New Law

Scripture: Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to[a] them,[b]”
declares the LORD.
33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

Ornament: Tablets of Law

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Jesse Tree Day 15: Throne

Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8

1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Ornament: Monstrance
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Jesse Tree Day 14: Solomon

Scripture: 1 Kings 3:3-28

3 Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

4 The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

6 Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

7 “Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for—both wealth and honor—so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.” 15 Then Solomon awoke—and he realized it had been a dream.

He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court.

A Wise Ruling

16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.
19 “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”

22 The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”

But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.

23 The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”

24 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”

26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”

But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”

27 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”

28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

My three-year-old had a hard time with this story. She really didn’t like the though of someone cutting a baby in half. No matter how you try to explain it, it’s a pretty harsh example of wisdom but effective, after all, most mothers would lay down their lives for their children and would stop at nothing to ensure that nothing on them is harmed.

Ornament: Crown
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Jesse Tree Day 13: David

Scripture: 1 Sam 16:14-23

David in Saul’s Service

14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil[a] spirit from the LORD tormented him.
15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the LORD is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.

Ornament: Harp
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